No.10 lady Vols open soccer season with win over Fordham

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT.)-- No. 10 Tennessee endured a two-hour weather delay on opening night before grinding out a 3-1 victory over the Fordham Rams Thursday night at Regal Soccer Stadium.

All three Volunteer scores came from upperclassmen, as MA Vignola, Erin Gilroy and Salera Jordan accounted for goals against the Rams. UT recorded its third-straight season-opening win and improved its all-time record in season openers to 17-6-2 and 6-1-1 under head coach Brian Pensky.

"Before we came out for the initial warmup at 6 p.m., we said, 'hey look, be prepared for some adversity tonight,'" Pensky said following the win. "The team that deals with that the best puts themselves in the best chance to win. I think when we went in and told them we would warm up at 8:50 p.m., they were pretty jacked up. They were excited to play. They were just chomping at the bit and ready to go."

Tennessee's first goal of the season came off the left foot of Vignola, scoring from 22 yards off a service from Katie Cousins' corner kick to the top of the box. The Vols pulled some trickery on the play with a double dummy set piece, and Vignola's rocket shot deflected off a Fordham defender before finding its way into the back of the net.

"It was super exciting," Cousins said of the opening score. "One, because it was our first goal of the season. It was a rocket of a shot off MA's foot. It was also exciting because we had been working on that play. Our volunteer coach [Bulut Ozturk] came up with that play. It was really cool to see that work for our team."

The Vols entered the halftime locker room with a 1-0 edge. UT possessed the ball for 65 percent of the opening frame, outshooting Fordham 4-2 with a 3-0 lead in corner kicks.

Gilroy made her season debut starting the second half and scored on an impressive volley two and a half minutes later to put the Vols ahead 2-0. The Bellmore, N.Y. native received a service from the right side from rookie midfielder Isabella Cook and found the netting from five yards out. Amy Thompson was also credited with an assist as she found Cook at the right corner of the 18-yard box.

Tennessee extended its lead to three goals with a strike from Salera Jordan in the 55th minute, as Cousins picked up her second assist of the night. The two-time All-American fought for a loose ball and found Jordan in the box, who put away the score from inside the six-yard box.

Fordham broke up the shutout in the 89th minute as Amanda Miller connected from point blank range on a rebound off the cross bar.

Tennessee outshot Fordham 14-8 for the match, with nine shots on goal compared to three for the Rams. UT held possession for 62 percent of the match with a 4-1 edge in corner kicks.

UP NEXT: The Vols return to Regal Sunday, Aug. 25 to take on the Mercer Bears. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Regal Soccer Stadium.